Wow has it really been over a year since my last post? Amazing how time flies.
So quick update. I am afraid that I am that guy....I took on board the advice of a couple of guys I met in Spain and cut out the bread and cakes and as much sugar was I could....22 kilos later..... I had a Uni 1.1 that was too bloody big for me! I stumbled upon the legend that is Clive Mason and not only was he able to offer me a good deal on a replacement but he found me a man in desperate need of my existing wing!
I did a mass of research before I took the leap and, much as I loved the Uni I decided to go for a Solo instead. I 100% believe the Uni is a great wing to learn on but the opportunity to take a baby step up in performance was just too tempting. I asked Clive a million questions before I pulled the trigger and even so I forgot to ask the most important one. Ordered in January my new wing arrived in May! Not down to Clive at all, just the way it is but frustrating as hell.
Obviously with a new wing in hand the weather went to ratchet instantly and it rained when it wasnt blowing at 90 mph. However it eventually did turn good and I took it out into the field at home and had a couple of hours ground handling. Two things became obvious straight away. 1/ I still had a vague idea of what I was doing. 2/ the solo is definitely a little easy to work with than the Uni.
I spent most of May June and July trying to organise a date to get some refresher training and to get my BHPA signed of but we just couldnt make it happen. Distance, weather, other commitments and bloody COVID just kept getting in the way.
In the end I was forced to look closer to home. After a quick squint on the BHPA website I found a local guy! Winning! Nope after making a load of promises he has 100% ghosted me. I am not a happy bunny but its his choice how he runs his business, I just wish he hadn't got my hopes up and wasted my time.
While all this was going on I took the advice of one of the page members (asquaddie) and joined the club at Davidstow. This is where the story (at last) gets fun. I went along to say hi and to see what the vibe was like, I took my wing thinking I might be brave and do a little ground work, I took all my kit incase there was someone kind enough to look over it with me so that I was happy it was all good after all this time. All of these things happened. Lovely bunch of people, super positive and really helpful. Did a little handling and got a top tip for free that has made my life so much easier. As I was packing up one of the lads asked why I wasnt flying. I told him a brief version and he replied..."your ground work looked solid mate, you had that all under control, if I was you I would have sent it" I drove away feeling a bit daft but I knew I had to do the right thing.
That lasted 24 hours. To cut a long story short, I went back a few days later, got set up and sent it! Aborted take off the first time as I wasnt 100% happy, aborted the second time, the wind had shifted and I stupidly decided to adjust once the wing was up.....third times a charm! Up and away for the most amazing flight, best part of two hours! Now to be honest the wind was very light and I did manage to take...wait for it....4 attempts to land but once it felt spot on I nailed it. Couple of meters from where I wanted and on my feet nice and light. WHAT A RUSH! At that point I leant a very valuable lesson. It was pointed out to me that I have landed with about an egg cup of fuel. 1/ get fuel gauge fixed and 2/ put too much fuel in, just in case.
My objectives for the flight were to achieve a smooth take off and landing, feel my way into the new wing, fly in reasonably close ranks with other pilots and to land as close to a predetermined spot as I could. All achieved, I was delighted. Packed up and went home a really happy chap.
Two days later I went back for another go. My objectives where the same as last time but I added in that I wanted to use trimmers for the first time. Just a little out to feel the effects and pop them back in. I arrived to a deserted airfield as everyone else had decided to have a day off. So add a new objective, fly without the perceived support of other pilots. What a weird sensation! Really nice set up and take off, hour long flight, trimmers tried briefly and a decent landing after just two attempts ( I over estimated wind speed on approach and was going a bit too long). Two flights in three days and I am really happy so far.
Oh I have been emailing my new "instructor" asking when we might meet up all of this time by the way.
Two days off during which we baled hay at home. I was standing in the field saying "this would be a great place to someone to take off from" as I walked away I burst out laughing.....the whole point of this entire saga was so that I could fly from home without needing a whole team! I ran home, jumped in the car (still loaded with my kit) got set up and bugger me if I didnt achieve the dream I started out with! Took off like a ten year veteran, an hour over my home area (not too close or too low to avoid upsetting the locals) turned for home and dropped it back onto the launch field like I have been doing it for years. Well apart from the bit where I stumbled and fell onto my knees at the last second. As no one was here I am going to pretend it counts as a decent landing.
So thats where we are at as of today. The weather in Cornwall has turned for a few days so its time to relax and reflect. I want to fly from the airfield next with the objective of using my tip steering for the first time and if I get the perfect conditions I would like to try the trimmers again and maybe the speed bar.
Massive thanks to everyone who has encouraged me or even just put up with me and here's to the rest of the summers flying.
Oh...if anyone knows a BHPA instructor who might be on holiday this year looking for a flying buddy, I would still really like to get signed off.
Heres a quick picture taken from close to my house.